It’s been 16 years since “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” was released on the Nintendo 64 to universal critical acclaim. It remains one of the highest rated games of all time, and is known as one of the greatest video games ever made.
So let us take a critical look at this game. Putting nostalgia aside, is “Ocarina of Time” still the classic that it was all of those years ago, or has time truly caught up to this classic title?
Obviously, since this is a title on the Nintendo 64, things like graphics are hard to critically analyze. Of course, this game looks awful today with games on the PS4, Xbox One and PC looking photorealistic nowadays. Still, though “Ocarina of Time” didn’t represent the pinnacle of video game graphics, it has some great animation for a game made in 1998.
Regarding overall design, “Ocarina of Time” still has some of the best-designed dungeons in the franchise. It’s combat system still works well, allowing you to target enemies and effectively strafe around them during combat.
The world is still magnificent and grandiose. Traversing Hyrule is fun, especially while on horseback, but its emptiness in comparison to some of the other games in the franchise is certainly more apparent now than it was back then. The reason for this, I believe, has to do with how the game was perceived back in 1998.
Few games on the N64 were this massive in scope, and being able to explore such a vast world while the sun slowly gave way to a dark and dangerous night was mind blowing. But now, we have games like “Fallout 3” and “Skyrim;” games containing huge maps that are hundreds, if not thousands, of times larger than that of “Ocarina of Time.” Still, there’s something special with how Hyrule field was laid out, but that may just be the nostalgia talking.
Where “Ocarina of Time” truly shines is in its music. To this day, it’s still amazing to hear such beautiful and adventurous tunes coming from an N64 game. Being able to play certain tunes on your ocarina in order to call your horse or change the weather is still ridiculously cool.
The hardest part of actually reviewing a game that’s 16 years old is realizing that its sequels inevitably introduced new concepts while effectively streamlining many elements of the franchise that now feel outdated.
For example, this game’s direct sequel “The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask” put a huge emphasis on side quests that could be completed to further enhance the player’s knowledge of the world that they were in, which was a welcome change for many. Then there was “The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker” which introduced parrying, sailing and a whole slew of new items that changed how the game was played a little bit at a time.
Of course, I could go on, but this is why I find it interesting to take a look at how games have progressed over the years. “Ocarina of Time” is my favorite game of all time, and I feel that it has aged incredibly well. Sure, games today have learned from the precedent set by games like “Ocarina of Time,” and have improved on its design, but as a video game judged solely based on its fun factor, “Ocarina of Time” is excellent. It wraps you up in its world and makes you feel like you’re part of one of the greatest adventures of all time.